Danish fixed-wing medical drone project kicks off with 31-mile BVLOS drone flight over the sea

In Denmark, the start of the three-year HealthDrone project has been heralded with a medical drone flight over a distance of no less than 31 miles. During the flight, a number of blood samples were transported from Svendborg Hospital to the island of Ærø. The flight lasted 34 minutes, and the drone flew at an altitude of 240 feet. The flight was attended by transport minister Trine Bramsen.

HealthDrone

The three-year HealthDrone innovation project aims to develop medical drone delivery services for the transport of patient samples, medicines, and medical equipment between hospital wards, medical centers, and home care. The project involves developing and testing drones for the transport of blood samples and medicines between Ærø, Svendborg, and Odense. The project partners involved are Odense University Hospital, Falck, Holo, Unifly, Scandinavian Avionics, and the South Danish University.

The major advantage of fixed-wing drone delivery is the time savings that can be achieved.

“The blood samples are normally loaded into a car and taken to the ferry. The crossing alone takes 50 minutes. The cargo is then picked up by another car and taken to the hospital. The medical drone delivers directly from hospital to hospital within 35 minutes. Also, the ferry does not run between 8:30 PM and 6:00 AM,” said Harley Poulsen, UAV Operation Manager at Falck Vertical.

Danish Fixed-Wing Medical Drone Project Kicks Off With 31-Mile Bvlos Drone Flight Over The Sea

BVLOS drone flight over sea

During the test flight on May 31st, a medical drone with blood samples on board covered a distance of 31 miles in 34 minutes. This involved flying out of sight of the pilot (), over water.

The fixed-wing drone in question was supplied by the Swiss company RigiTech, and is specifically intended for the transport of goods. It is a aircraft that takes off like a multirotor and then flies like an airplane.

“In a European context, it is exceptional that we fly the drones without shutting down the airspace. Together with Naviair, Unifly and the Danish Transport Authority, we have developed a method at the university to track helicopters and planes, so that we can maneuver around them. Air traffic control at Naviair can see on their screens when a drone flight is in progress and will intervene if e.g. a rescue helicopter takes to the skies. We have paved the way to make this possible,” says Kjeld Jensen, project manager at South Danish University.

First step

According to Nicolai Søndergaard Laugesen, development director at Falck, transporting medical goods by means of drones is only a first step.

“If we look a little further ahead, it won’t be long before manned drones can be used to transport a paramedic or a doctor. Within three to five years it will be possible to fly a doctor or paramedic with a drone to the location of a person in need.”

If you’re interested in reading more stories about drones being used for goods then be sure to click the following link.

Cover photo: RigiTech

Danish Fixed-Wing Medical Drone Project Kicks Off With 31-Mile Bvlos Drone Flight Over The Sea 1

This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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